Innovation Showcase: Extreme Low Energy

Innovation Showcase: Extreme Low Energy

Caroline Clayton, operations director at North West SME Extreme Low Energy, tells BQ more about how the company is disrupting the energy sector and why they're taking to the stage at Venturefest Manchester later this month.

What does your company do?

Extreme Low Energy (ELe) delivers partially or fully off grid ultra-low energy infrastructures for buildings, distributing end to end direct current via Ethernet. ELe’s award-winning technologies provide super-efficient power management for a host of electronic devices, helping businesses achieve energy cost and carbon emission reductions of 80% on average.

For instance, ELe computing provide a range of traditional hardware solutions, which consume less energy, but still offer customers a robust computing environment without the carbon impact and associated energy costs. An Intel™ Quad core desktop and monitor can be powered from just 25 Watts.


What prompted you to enter the Innovation Showcase competition? Describe the innovation that you’ve entered the showcase with.

ELe entered the Innovation showcase competition as an opportunity to demonstrate our technology and take advance of the great PR opportunity associated with the event.

Transmission was globally standardised on AC (Alternate Current) based power and until relatively recently has met our needs. But in today’s world of computers and mobile phones, which require DC (Direct Current) power, this method of transmission has become extremely inefficient. ELe technologies cut out the wasteful AC/DC conversion process with an innovative DC based power infrastructure and a new generation of low energy, DC powered devices including computers.

The ELe retrofit solution is disruptive as it utilises the existing cabling infrastructure; no rewiring is required so the solution can be installed with minimal work. Likewise, the ELe new build potential is substantial as it changes the way buildings are designed for maximum efficiency and return.

ELe technologies can accelerate educational and commercial programs for developing countries by enabling access to computers and other devices without the need for mains power. Importantly ELe devices are designed to require less energy reducing the energy generation demand. 


How would you describe that to a novice?

AC, in other words, alternating current is a flow of charge that is constantly changing direction. This means it is good for mains electricity as the electricity can flow in either direction. Mains electricity is the electricity that flows into your building from the national grid.

DC, or direct current, is where the current only flows in one direction, this is used in batteries as you don’t want the current to flow back into the battery, you want all the power flowing only into the appliance.

All buildings have an AC ring main supplying electricity. But electronic devices such as computers, TV’s and mobile phone chargers only work from a DC current - therefore all of these devices have a power supply converting the energy. Think of a laptop… half way down the cable is a black box which gets hot, this is where the conversion takes place, and the heat is wasted energy.

ELe removes this wasteful conversion process and provides very low energy computing solutions. At the back of your office PC there is usually a data cable that connects your PC to your company’s network allowing you to access files / folders. ELe devices are powered by this same cable – no other plugs or wires. This allows us to feed them directly with DC.


What are the biggest challenges you face?

For us, it’s important that potential customers know we exist; that there is an alternative to the status quo. Early adopters have to be willing to try something new and looking to stay ahead of the curve, where technology is concerned.


What are your biggest professional achievements to date?

We’ve won a series of awards, including:

  • UKTI Great British Business National Award Most Innovative Small Business
  • Echo Environmental Enterprise of the Year Award
  • Merseyside Innovation Award Winner May 2016 and Overall Runner up for Annual Award 
  • Innovation Gateway Pilot Partner – working with Carillion
  • Commonwealth First Export Champion

And we consider all of our milestones to be proud achievements – we’ve had clients like Business Academy Bexley and Kyalami School in Johannesburg, South Africa running our kit without problems. We published a patent in April 2016 in relation to the novel way power is transferred using ELe.


How do you feel about presenting to potentially hundreds of people at Venturefest Manchester?

Mark is really excited about the opportunity – but, understandably when dealing with such complex technologies, somewhat apprehensive about getting the message across in just 3 minutes!


What would winning the Innovation Showcase mean to your business?

As a North West based SME focused on designing products and solutions to remove waste and reduce energy consumption, it would mean the world to us. Having others believe and have faith in what we feel is a fantastic solution and a real ‘enabling’ technology.

The PR potential generated and the business support package offered would be of real value to a business of our size and age.


Where do you see your company in five years time?

We want to be a world leader in our field, a profitable company with a great reputation. For us, success includes having well established and functioning UK and international distribution channels in place. We will have more than ten patents filed, and will be continuing to innovate so as to stay ahead of the curve from a technology standpoint.

Just as importantly, we want to retain our people, continuing to build ourselves a strong and successful team governed by core principles.


What advice would you give to aspiring innovators?

  • Surround yourself with supportive people.
  • Have faith and stick with it.
  • Tap into the expertise of others – you can’t do it alone. 


Are you an innovator, investor or entrepreneur? Then find out more aboutVenturefest Manchester 2016 and book your free place today!